The year was 2001. Mr. Steinberg sat in his living room, straining to hear his daughter’s conversation with her friends.
Amy Steinberg, Mr. Steinberg’s daughter, was a clever child with many friends. Today was her tenth birthday, a birthday she had been looking forward to for a while. Amy was a simple girl. She didn’t ask for much from her parents. She didn’t ask for the latest version of the interactive doll, which was painstakingly expensive, or for a trip to Disneyland. Instead, she had asked if she could host a sleepover.
Of course, Amy’s parent’s were perfectly okay with this. It was cheap, and it was what their daughter wanted. Amy was overjoyed. Mr. Steinberg could tell, even though he was downstairs, and the door to the study, where the girls were, was closed. She was the loudest one. She was telling plenty of jokes, because whatever she said was followed by short fits of laughter. After many minutes, Mr. Steinberg heard the door open upstairs, and the sounds of chatter and footsteps. They thumped down the stairs, and filed into the living room, Amy stopping right in front of her dad.
“Can we play hide-and-seek?” She asked.
“I don’t see why not.” Her father said simply. He got up to leave.
“No, you stay there. But promise you wont tell the seeker where we hid.” She told him. “Promise.”
Her father smiled up at her. “Of course.”
And the girls began. Amy was seeker. She ran around the house, peering under the tables, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, jumping into rooms to try to scare another girl. Then it was another girl’s turn at seeker. She, too, used these techniques, adding her own things here and there. Finally, it was Amy’s best friend’s turn. She did the same thing. But after many moments, she came back downstairs, all the girls trailing behind her, and they filed into the living room once more.
“What’s wrong?” Asked Mr. Steinberg
“We can’t find Amy anywhere.” Said one of the girls.
And this was true. Mr. Steinberg and all of the girls combined could not find Amy anywhere. After an hour or so of desperate searching, Mr. Steinberg phones the police, and the parents of the partygoers. The police searched everywhere. After many days of patrolling and showing neighbors pictures of Amy, they, too, gave up. Mr. Steinberg fell into grief. Amy had been his only daughter. After many years, he and his wife decided that it was time to sell the house. It reminded them too much of the day when Amy had gone missing.
Mr. Steinberg walked around the house, looking for stray objects they might have forgotten to pack. Then, he remembered. He went down into the basement. He had hardly put anything down here, because it kind of gave him the creeps. He walked around for a while, picking up things he would take, when he saw it.
It was a trunk. It was chunky, rather long. It looked very old, and a layer of dust had accumulated over it, but it shined in the dim light. It looked like something his mother would have given to Amy, something possibly filled with old hats and poufy dresses, but he wouldn’t know if he didn’t check. He got down on his knees beside it. It had a little lock, but it was broken, and it looked as if someone had opened it before, but he didn’t know who. He had never seen the trunk, and he was sure his wife hadn’t ever seen it either. Curious, he opened it.
And cried out when he saw what was inside.
Amy’s small, pale body was curled up inside. Her mouth was open a little. He had been right about the clothes, it looked as if she had fallen asleep on a small bed. Her eyes were wide, and there was one thing that she looked like she might have thought before she passed.
They’re never going to find me.